Got a wireless network? Need to extend the range to cover that other corner of the house/garden/shed? Been thoroughly hacked off with trying to get what should be quite a simple thing working properly? Yup. Me too…
This is what we have and what we want to do: I’ll discuss the Netgear DG834Gv3 and WG602v3 as those are what I’ve used; your mileage may vary with different devices. The DG834G is a wireless router with built-in ADSL modem; I have version 3 and you’ll need recent firmware (I’ve used v4.01.28) for this form of ‘Wireless Distribution Services’ (WDS) to work. The WG602 is a wireless access point; I have version 3 and again you’ll need recent firmware (I’ve used v1.2.5).
Lets say you want to have a setup like in the diagram below, with the DG834G connected to the internet and all the other devices able to feed off it. By that I mean each of the laptops and the WG602 can connect to the DG834G and share the internet connection. There’s also a desktop that has ethernet but no wireless card so we plug that into the WG602. Because we want maximum flexibility, we want one or more laptops to be able to connect to the nearest wireless point to benefit from the best signal whilst sharing that internet connection. And because we value the contents of our computers (or pay by the megabyte for the internet) then we want to encrypt the whole thing as best we can to ward off unscrupulous individuals who may wish to share the connection without our permission…
With me so far? Good.
One method that works…
The only system I could find that fitted (almost) all the above criteria, was that of ‘Wireless Repeating’. Not Point-to-Point Bridging (with that the laptops can only associate with the WG602 not the DG834G). The counter-intuitive bit that had me foxed for a while was that you need to tell the DG834G and the WG602 to repeat with each other. The ‘almost’ in the above sentence is because with the above firmware version this only works with WEP encryption, which everyone knows can be cracked by a determined hijacker. NB: With firmware version v4.01.40, a reader has informed me that the DG834G with WPA over WDS works, please see the ‘Loose ends’ below.
Firstly set this up without encryption, MAC address filtering and the like. Those bits can be added later; you need to start with a clean slate. Set the name (SSID) of the wireless network the same on both the DG834G and the WG602. NB: It seems this may not be essential and you can use different SSIDs if you wish, please see the ‘Loose ends’ below.
Set the ‘WDS Mode’ on the DG834G to ‘Enable Wireless Bridging and Repeating’ and select the radio button ‘Repeater with Wireless Client Association’. On one of the lines for the remote MAC addresses underneath, write the MAC address of the WG602.
Set the ‘Access Point Mode’ on the WG602 to ‘Repeater with Wireless Client Association’ and on the line underneath for the remote MAC address put in the MAC address of the DG834G.
Basically, that’s it. I never thought this would work because if both the DG834 and WG602 exclusively talk to each other then it wasn’t obvious to me how the laptops would access anything or how the desktop would be able to access the internet… Judging by the various questions that come up on the Netgear forums regarding this though it seems I’m not the only one who wanted this to work but couldn’t get it to. If this article helps just one person, it was worth writing.
As I said above, get this working with no encryption first and start from the simplest setup possible. At the time this article was first written, the only encryption that the DG834G supported with repeating was WEP but a reader has informed me that WDS now works with WPA encryption using firmware v4.01.40 [thanks Simon, most appreciated]. I no longer own these devices and run this configuration so can’t personally verify this, but one reader has taken the trouble to advise that he was unable to get WPA to work using the ‘Repeating with Wireless Client Association’ mode [thanks Thomas, most appreciated]. As always, test it with a really simple encryption key that you can’t fail to type in wrongly before immediately changing that to a properly random key. A great source of random data for keys can be found on the grc.com site: Perfect Passwords.
I then set up access controls based on MAC addresses to only allow authorised machines to access the network. Finally, I turned off the SSID broadcasting on both the DG834G and the WG602. Both these are ‘security by obfuscation’ steps, which are not really security, but will stop Fred Bloggs next door from ‘seeing’ my wireless network appear automatically on his computer as an available network to use.
If you have a laptop that has a habit of changing networks, a reader has informed me that you can set the SSIDs to be different. I can’t quite get my head around why this should work but it does (or at least did - I’ve only had one positive report about this so far, the rest haven’t been able to make it work) and allows you to be certain which device you’re actually connecting to [thanks Mike, most appreciated].
Can I emphasise a point about using WPA encryption if possible? Almost all devices support WPA, including for the configuration above if the latest firmware is used so there’s no excuse. WEP really is the Wireless Eavesdropping Protocol now and the world should stop using it!
Thanks for reading. Hope this helped. Any questions are welcome by email at the address in the footer.
Thanks to each and every one of the following for taking the time to write about their experiences, its good to know I wasn’t the only one who found this to be a problem and I’m very pleased to have been of some assistance.
Stratis, Greece, November 2007
A word of thanks for your posting [this article]. It [was the only one that helped] resolve problems with a WG602 I bought today as a repeater but then thought, because of various misinformed or outdated postings that DG838v3 could not be used with it unless I purchased a second 602! I only had to upgrade the firmware from netgear’s site to a later version to make it provide a WDS menu (not possible before). In any case, it’s working now even though it is not exactly a whopper but that’s another story.
Stewart, February 2008
Just a quick but genuine thanks for your article on repeating with the DG834 and WG602. A great help, with both my choice of hardware and with setting it up.
Kelly, Australia, May 2008
Thanks for your article. It helped lots.
Mark, July 2008
Just wanted to send a thank you your way. That guide is spot on and didn’t take me long at all to setup the router and repeater as instructed in your tutorial.
Dan, September 2008
Just thought I’d say thanks for the tip re: Netgear WG602 - DG834G repeating, I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work but enabling repeating between the two devices worked a treat. Shame netgear couldn’t explain it properly in the description as they say that it will relay all traffic to the other device…
Sam, September 2008
Many thanks for the useful article. I had a number of DG834Gs lying around and wanted to set them up as repeaters, but couldn’t find any information on the internet about how to do this. Your article gave me some good ideas. I’ve documented what needs to be done for DG834Gs at http://www.unix.ms/netgear (wireless repeating with multiple DG834Gs).
Simon, February 2009
Just to let you know that you can use WPA+WPA2 wireless encryption with WDS on the DG834v3 (and Sky DG934G) routers using firmware V4.01.40.
Nathan, July 2009
I just wanted to say thanks for posting [this] article; I’ve got nothing useful to add, but it really saved the day after hours of headaches trying to get those devices doing what I wanted them to. Thanks!
Mike, September 2009
Many thanks for your guide to setting up the WG602. I’m using a WG602 as a wirless range extender for a DG834Gv4.
One variation from your guide however - I have set different SSID’s in the 2 Netgear boxes. It’s working fine, and this makes more sense to me as I can be certain which box I’m connected to. My laptop can see both boxes, with the DG834 being very weak, but possible to connect to. I want to be certain I’m connected to the WG602.
I’ve set WEP encryption on both boxes with the same WEP key in both.
Also, you didn’t talk about the (apparent) need to first configure a PC with a suitable TCP/IP address so it can talk to the WG602 for configuring, then resetting the PC’s TCP/IP address again when configured, to use DHCP or whatever.
Thomas, Australia, October 2009
Many thanks for your article; it helped me wade through the misinformation from Netgear. I have a similar setup using an Netgear branded modem/router made for Optus Communications hence the designation, DG834GUv5 and a Netgear branded WG602v4 access point.
It’s important to note both devices must be configured with identical details- SSID broadcast (or not), security key, MAC filtering, etc. FYI, I tried using different SSIDs but could not connect to the internet via the access point for me.
I also unsuccessfully tried WPA over WDS with Repeating with Wireless Client Association. According to 2 Australian Netgear senior techs, WPA over WDS is only allowed with Point-to-Point and Multi-point Bridging be it the DG834Gv5 or DG834GUv5 and the WG602; WPA is not currently available in Repeating with Wireless Client Association.
Guido, Channel Islands, March 2010
The DG834g I had was a v1, which didn’t have the repeater function. I bought a WG602 and did the repeater set-up to a DG834N (master) as you have described on your website. Bingo! it is working well, though at the moment I am using WEP security. I will try to improve this.
Your one page instruction is so useful, compared to the dozens of manual pages. I am a novice in networks and wireless set-ups, without your information I probably would still be working on it, or given up!